Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Tag Archives: Cardiff Bay

Woods Brasserie- A perfect blend of class and contemporary

To my excitement, Mr V and I were recently invited to review Woods Brasserie in Cardiff Bay. Part of the Knife and Fork Food group, contemporary restaurant Woods has been on my ‘to do list’ for quite sometime.

We arrived to an already busy reception but were greeted quickly and our coats were taken. The decor was very much my favoured style. Classy and contemporary but also a bit quirky. Feature walls of retro patterned wallpaper stood out along with pink walls and bright green seats and were complimented nicely by other more neutral colours and wooden tables and chairs.

After being welcomed at the door, we were welcomed again when we took our seats and then again by the person taking our drink orders. Everyone was very attentive and efficient throughout the evening but not so much so that it felt annoying or too formal like it sometimes can. Woods have managed to create a perfect blend of upmarket dining that is still relaxed, stylish and contemporary.
There were two menus to choose from. An  A la Carte menu and a Table d hote menu which was very reasonably priced at £20 for 3 courses. We chose the A la Carte menu because although the other menu was perfectly fine, there were a few dishes that we really wanted to try that were only available on the A la Carte menu.

One of these was the Caramelized Ox Cheek and Foie Gras Ballontine which was served with carrot, star anise pickle and crispy bread. It was exceptional and possibly one of the best starters I’ve had for a long while. The ox cheek was beautifully cooked. It was tender, smooth and sweet with a thin crisp of sugar on top. The foie gras was delicious. My only complaint was that it could have been warmer.

Mr V was the lucky owner of the ox starter but mine was also high quality. I opted for the Smoked Mackerel and Dill Choux Buns with Sardines and Tomato dressing. Although I like them, I’ve never quite got the hype around profiteroles but with fish…much more up my street! They were light, airy and delicious. The star of the dish for me though was the sardine and tomato dressing which was the perfect accompaniment.

Moving onto the mains, we were quite excited by the selection. However, the starters had set the bar very high and the mains were not quite at the same level, although still very good. Mr V chose the Slow Braised Blade of Beef with Roasted Carrot, Spelt and Wild Garlic with Braising Liquor. The beef was very well cooked and fell apart with a breath but Mr V felt that it just lacked some punch of flavour.

I continued along a fish theme and opted for the Loch Duart Salmon, Welsh Breakfast Garnish (Serrano crisp, Lavabread, Leeks and Cockle Butter). The salmon was beautifully cooked and encased in the Serrano ham. The soft salmon was perfect with the crunchy lava bread but I didn’t think the ham added anything. The leeks and cockle butter on the other hand were an excellent addition.

We added a side order of seasonal green vegetables and a side of mash potato with our mains as recommended by our waitress. This brought our mains up to £15 and £18 respectively which we felt was a little expensive for the latter but fortunately the desserts and starters were a much more reasonable price.

The dessert menu looked very appealing but we were quite full so we decided to share the Lemon, Pistachio and Poppy Seed Cake with Tarragon Mascarpone. I wanted to try this because I adore lemon cake but also because I like food that pushes the boundaries and I felt that the tarragon element was quite unusual.

The cake was crunchy and sweet and was complimented by the creamy mascarpone. The tarragon made it appear light and fresh and was the perfect end to a filling meal.

Reflecting on the evening, we were very impressed. I love the decor and the atmosphere was spot on. The menu had clearly been planned with thought and precision and boasted some unusual dishes. Chatting to Restaurant Manager Francoise after the meal,  we learnt Head Chef Wesley Hammond designed the menus and where possible, local ingredients are sourced. They like to have a Welsh twist on some traditional dishes, like my salmon main course.

The only complaint I have which is a general whinge nowadays is the addition of side dishes which I really think should be part of a meal. Other than that, we enjoyed our meal and the overall experience and will definitely be returning.

My last Mouthful was: Caramelized ox cheek and foie gras ballotine

Service-

Atmosphere and Decor-

Quality of food-

Diversity of menu- 

Value for money-

Overall rating- 

For more reviews and a list of all the green spoon businesses in Cardiff please see the Your Last Mouthful website

Advertisements

Mr.G’s Soul Kitchen – Singing with spice

Review by Mr. V

Last week, Mrs V and I were asked to review Mr.G’s Soul Kitchen. I was looking forward to this as I was eager to try something a bit different and we have heard some very mixed reviews. Situated in the bay area, it’s away from all the hubbub and down a quiet street. Looking appealing from the outside, we went in and waited for the waiter to greet us. It took a while but finally we were greeted by the waiter and we chose our seats. The restaurant was quiet, only a couple of tables taken but the atmosphere was nice although the music a little on the loud side.

The décor was very pleasant with plenty of artwork from a local artist around on the walls including a very interesting collage of all the different buildings in the bay. The bar area was a little sparse, with an empty wine rack – looked a little like they’d not quite finished the decorating which may be the case as it’s quite new.

We ordered our drinks and perused the menu. There was a good choice, but eventually I settled on the lamb ribs (£3.95) for starter and Mrs V went for the spicy fish cakes.

Ribs are quite a favourite of mine and these lamb ribs were lovely. Served in a dark, sticky sauce they were tender and delicious. Not a lot of meat on them but then I do get greedy when eating ribs. The sauce had a good level of spiciness and a good depth of flavour. I could have eaten them all night long, washed down with a few cold beers.

Mrs V’s fish cakes (£3.50) were good – a good size and nice crispy fried outer. It wasn’t your usual fish cake as it had a dark filling but very nice all the same. Unfortunately it was served with a generic sweet chiili sauce which didn’t seem a good match.

For the mains I went for the Ackee and Saltfish served with rice and peas (£9.95). This was really good. It was served in a bowl which I spooned out onto the rice. There was plenty of punchy taste, spice and texture. It tasted great and the level of spiciness, for me, was perfect. Very generous portions too.

Mrs V went for the Jerk Chicken (£7.50). A good sized portion of chicken smothered in a dark, sticky jerk sauce – much the same as the lamb ribs I had for starter, and served with rice and peas. Sadly there was no coleslaw with it as stated on the menu which would have lightened the meal up a bit. The sauce again was very tasty with a good level of spice.

Onto desserts. I feel that quite a few restaurants aren’t too fussed about desserts and just add a few standards on for the diners who like to finish with something sweet. Here I don’t think was much of an exception as they were not overly inspiring. However the waiter did ‘big up’ the homemade mango cheesecake for us so we both obliged and both had the cheesecake. It was nice, although the mango slices may possibly had been from Mr Del Monte rather than Mr G’s fruit tree and it was rather overpowered by chocolate– but enjoyable all the same.

Overall the starters and mains were great, the service started a little slow but did get better as the evening went on. The prices make it very good value, especially taking the portion sizes into consideration. However, the best thing is that when they say it’s spicy, it IS spicy! Definately a good alternative to the main drag over the road.

My last mouthful was: The lamb ribs

Service- /

Atmosphere and Decor-

Quality of food-

Diversity of menu-

Value for money-

Overall rating- 

Review Written by Mr.V

Kemi’s Cafe- That is some salad!

Just before Easter, Mrs J and I went along to Kemi’s Cafe in Cardiff Bay for a spot of lunch. When I think of The Bay for food, I picture drinks and dinner. For lunch it isn’t really on my radar but Kemi’s cafe altered that opinion somewhat.

It was a nice day and when we approached there were tables and chairs outside. It looked like a nice place to sit if you could ignore the traffic as it meant you had a view through the fountains onto the spectacular Millenium Centre. As it was a bit blowy we decided to take a seat inside.

The first thing you see when you walk through the door is a very welcoming counter packed full of lunch time treats! From fully loaded quiche to tapas to delicious looking cakes, we couldn’t help but get excited. There was lots to choose from but I had been recommended the salad feast so I went for that while Mrs J went for Glamorgan sausages with a side salad.

We were given a spoon with a number on it, directed to the cold drinks cabinet and then made our way upstairs to find a seat. It was very nice upstairs with simple, casual decor. With leaflet displays and orange stackable chairs, it had a community centre feel. Tables had quirky Easter themed spoon holders which looked handmade and there was even a stack of toys for little ones. The decor may have been simple but when you look out of the huge glass windows, it all becomes irrelevant anyway. The view of the fountains and Millenium Centre makes it an excellent location.

As we eyed up the plates of the diners next to us, our food was brought to us quickly despite the fact that it was very busy for a Monday afternoon, almost full in fact. The food certainly looked the part and we eagerly dug in.

Mrs. J enjoyed her Glamorgan sausages. They were warm and soft and full of flavour. She was particularly impressed with her side salad as it wasn’t your usual collection of leaves. It was a salad of mange tout, red peppers, tomato and lettuce. For £4, this seemed a little pricey at first but when you think how much you pay for a take away sandwich, it was actually pretty good value.

My Salad Feast was excellent value! I had the small option for £4.50 and it was huge! It was no ordinary salad either. It was a combination of lots of things but they all went together nicely. It was very varied and included cous cous, rice salad, sweet potato wedges, potato salad, bean salad and even a fig salad among other things. I really enjoyed it. There was no mayonnaise in any of the components either so it was very healthy too.

As lunch spots go, I was very impressed with Kemi’s. If I am in the Bay for lunch again, I will definitely head back. It is in the same building as Crafts in the Bay so when you’ve finished eating you can have a wander around the gallery too.

My Last Mouthful was: The Salad Feast

Service-

Atmosphere and Decor-

Quality of food-

Diversity of menu-

Value for money-

Overall rating- 

For more reviews, competitions, foodie news and a directory of the best places to eat in Cardiff and the surrounding area, please see my website.

Bosphorus – Great location, shame about the service…

Guest review by Mr. V

All by itself on its own strand of pier, the glass clad restaurant sits at its prominent location jutting out from the rest of the forage of restaurants and welcomes any onlooker. After many a time of wandering by and saying ‘we should go there someday’, finally, last week, we did and went along for a taste of what the Bosphorus has to offer.

It was a Monday night so we weren’t expecting it to be particularly busy, but then on the other hand we were also hoping it wasn’t going to be empty. Sadly it was, although 3 more people did arrive shortly afterwards. But as soon as we sat down the speakers came to life and we were treated to some essential Turkish music.

The interior is very nice – all three sides fully flanked with glass facing the sea and a nice panoramic view of the Bay across to Penarth. (At least of the lights as it was dark…) Simple décor, high ceiling and some (rather annoying) flashing lights which I’m hoping were just left up from the Christmas period. But all in all, very pleasant.

On arrival we were greeted, just about, by a rather glum looking waiter who gestured to the whole restaurant implying ‘you really can sit anywhere’. So we took a seat around the corner next to the glass wall.

With the drinks ordered we perused the menu. Our drinks arrived fairly quickly and were accompanied with a bowl of flat bread which is always a nice touch, but with no butter or olive oil, it was a little dry. When we’d come to a decision on what to order, we waited for the waiter. Then we waited a little longer. And then a touch longer, and then finally he came and took our orders. Mrs V went for the stuffed aubergine, and I went for the golden triangles of filo pastry stuffed with feta cheese, spinach, herbs and cheddar cheese. The aubergine was nice but lacked a bit in taste and flavour.

The filo pastries were better, good colour and tasted nice. Both were presented quite simply but looked ok.

Onto the mains and after a rather lengthy wait (even if it was brimming with people it was still a good while) we finally put to rest the rumblings in our stomachs. Mrs V had the marinated swordfish served with salad and lemon butter sauce. Nicely presented on a large plate, the fish tasted good, the salad was a little basic and it would have been nice to have some carbs but all in all, quite a nice dish.

I went for the Kul Basti which is an escallop of lamb with boiled rice and sautéed vegetables. The marinated lamb was very tasty, juicy, tender and well cooked. But the rest was again a little uninspiring and perhaps could have done with a sauce to wetten the dish as a whole. But overall the mains were good enough.

I’m afraid that due to the rather laid service we decided to opt out of ordering a dessert.

The menu on the whole had lots of choice with hot and cold starters and some good vegetarian options. It has a good range in price from £9.95 to £16.75 for the mains and £4.45 to £7.15 for the hot and cold starters.

Overall,  the food was ok but nothing to shout about. The service, especially considering there were only 2 tables occupied including ourselves was desperately slow but also not a single smile. We felt more of an inconvenience, and had the waiter not forced a smile and opened the door for us on our exit they would have received a red spoon for service. The best thing about it however, is the location. I may have not have had such a dim view of the whole experience had the service been friendly and welcoming. It’s a simple thing but makes a big difference. Hopefully the waiter was just having an off day.

My last mouthful was: The marinated escallop of lamb

Service-

Atmosphere and decor-

Quality of food-

Diversity of menu-

Value for money-

Overall rating-

Las Iguanas- A superior Chain Restaurant

Last weekend, we were invited out for a meal with some friends. As it was their ‘do’ the venue wasn’t our choice and I have to say I was rather disappointed as we entered the chain in the Bay. Although I do like Las Iguanas, with so many great places to eat in Cardiff, a chain wouldn’t have been my first choice. However, when I was doing market research for my new website, you said you wanted reviews on chains too so here you go!

As we entered we were immediately greeted by a friendly member of staff  who walked us through the large restaurant towards a round table that was perfect for the 6 of us. When there is a large party, I hate being on a rectangular table, it’ so anti-social so this was just right.

We took our seats and were presented with menus. It was happy hour on cocktails but unfortunately we somehow managed to miss this and chose wine apart from one savvy diner amongst us.

I have eaten in Las Iguanas on a few occasions but never in this Cardiff branch before. It’s bigger than others I’ve tried but the decor followed along the same lines. Bright colours, loud latin music, but it took on a more modern theme than some, maybe because it is so new.

The menu was quite extensive and included a good range of prices. After some deliberation, I chose the Pescado Fritas which was Sustainable white fish, marinated & crumbled in coconut & chilli. With mango peri-peri sauce & Sweet potato fries or Salad. This basically equated to posh fish and chips. It came nicely presented on a wooden platter but I was surprised by the size of it. As one of the cheapest mains on the menu (£7.90), I suppose I should have considered this might be the case. While a tasty dish with crunchy sweet potato chips and nicely cooked fish in a subtley flavoured coconut breadcrumb (I didn’t taste any chilli), I was left feeling rather hungry at the end of it.

I’m surprised the dish came with a choice of sweet potato chips OR salad. I think it should have really come with both, even if that bumped up the price. At least then it would have felt more like a meal.

Mr.V chose the Pescado A La macho (Squid, mussels, crayfish, prawns & cod in a white wine, seafood & paprika sauce) which was served over a candle to keep it warm and with a plate of rice and green beans. The fish was varied and well cooked and the sauce was very nice.

Although not particularly full, none of our fellow diners opted for dessert so I passed too. The dessert menu included a good variety but all were fairly standard and nothing jumped out at me.

All in all, we did have a nice meal at a reasonable cost. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to and I have to say that as chains go, I think Las Iguanas is a good one and this branch was no exception to the rule. It’s difficult to write a review here as we only had one course so bear that in mind but based on what we did have, it is going to be green spoons all round. However, although it rated highly, for me, a chain just doesn’t have the same feeling as a good independently run restaurant but this one definitely has its place.

My last mouthful was: The Pascado Fritas

Service –  

Atmosphere and decor-

Quality of food-

Diversity of menu-

Value for money-

Overall rating-

Happy Birthday Ffresh!

Last week, I was very honoured to be invited along to Ffresh‘s 2nd Birthday celebrations and guest chef night with Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree.

Along with other food bloggers from the Cardiff area and a number of paying guests, I was treated to a three course meal cooked at the restaurant with Shaun Hillworking as head chef with wine from Ancre Hill Estate in Monmouthshire.

I have to confess that I had never been to Ffresh before this but I have heard good things about it and I wasn’t disappointed. The restaurant itself is a perfect extension of the Millenium centre; modern, stylish, grand with a dash of sophistication. It certainly isn’t in the same league as many of the chain restaurants dominating the Mermaid Quay area.

The night began with welcome drinks which to my delight were a pink sparkling number. Now I don’t pretend to know a lot about wine but I know what I like and this was very nice. I just wish I had had a bigger lunch so I could have drunk more of it before it started going to my head and I had to reluctantly turn down a second glass. We also had some canapes of Arancini which were very nice and cheese and sesame biscuits which unfortunately I didn’t get to try. Too busy nattering (or sampling the wine!)

After chatting in the bar area with other food bloggers and the very welcoming staff, we were shown to our seats in the restaurant. I was happy to be on a table with fellow food and drink bloggers Cardiff Bites and Drinks from Wales as well as the owners of Ancre Hill Estate and Rhiannon and David from The Centre.

As the kitchen in Ffresh is in full view, we could see the staff efficiently preparing our feast which I always think is a nice touch and after a short speech from Shaun Hill, food was served quickly and professionally.

To start we were treated to an effortlessly beautiful dish of Red Mullet with Anchovies and Herb Creme Fraiche. This was my favourite dish of the night. The fish was cooked beautifully and fell apart at first touch. The sauce was subtle and delicious and I felt the need to make sure I moped it all up with my bread.

Being a huge fan of game, the next course was the one I was most looking forward too when reading the menu- Roasted Partridge with its own Pudding, Puffin Potato Fondant, Hispi Cabbage and Lentils. The dish was presented very well with the meat placed on the pudding and potato with the cabbage underneath. The pudding was wonderful; soft and spongy yet creamy and rich and the cabbage with lentils went very well with the dish. The partridge was cooked well but unfortunately, I did have rather a lot of small bones to fight with and the amount of bones seemed to be uneven amongst diners.

As I said earlier, I don’t know a lot about wine but even I could tell that the wine for this course definitely complimented the flavours of the dish and I was very impressed. Who knew Welsh wine could taste so good!

Our final course was a delicious Hot Chocolate Fondant with Hazelnut Praline Sauce and Wild Fig Vanilla Ice Cream. While I like dessert, it is usually my least favourite course but certainly not on this occasion. The fondant was probably the best I have ever had (the photo doesn’t do it justice). So often a disappointment with the promise of chocolate sauce that doesn’t appear, this one was perfect. As the spoon made contact, the chocolate sauced oozed out and merged with the lovely praline sauce. Seriously good! The ice cream was nice too although the fig was a little subtle for my palate.

Overall, this was a great meal and the night was a success. I had a really good time and am now looking forward to planning a visit to Ffresh to see how it fares on a normal night and I think a trip to the Walnut Tree might be in order too! Thanks to David Pearce and his team for the invite and for a great night!

A great French restaurant in Cardiff!

Last Wednesday, I went to Cote, a new French restaurant that has opened in Cardiff Bay. I was very excited because I absolutely love French food. We also had a voucher for 50% off our food bill which is a fantastic deal!

The restaurant is right at the end of Mermaid’s Quay in the Bay, almost directly opposite Wales Millennium Centre which is a nice location. We walked in and realised the restaurant was quite posh. The decor was classy and sophisticated with small round tables with candles and dim lighting. It looked lovely and my tummy was rumbling!

We were seated and brought a menu. Drinks were very reasonable and there was a good choice. The food menu was reasonably extensive and had some really nice dishes, especially starters. As I read through, I realised that there were lots of nice dishes but nothing that really jumped out at me as a definite choice except for the Confit De Canard, which I chose as my main.

Our waiter was very nice and polite. The service was very upmarket. The waiter called us Madam and Sir and poured the wine with one hand behind his back (unfortunately, he also spilt it all over the table which was quite amusing!). Unfortunately, we had to wait 35 minutes for our starters as it was busy but our main and desert came quicker.

I was impressed with my pate starter which was very nicely presented. The other two people I was with had scallops which they said were nice but not outstanding. The portion and ingredients were a bit measly apparently. My main course of Confit de Canard was delicious! The only thing that was slightly annoying was that you had to buy vegetables and potatoes separately which I found a bit pretentious and it bumps up the price. Deserts were nice, although a bit on the small side.

Overall, we had a lovely night. The atmosphere was spot on and with our voucher, it was excellent value. I’m not sure whether I would hurry back at the original price too often but I will definitely go again. One thing to watch out for though is that they add a 12.5% service charge to your bill! I think this is very steep! I don’t like it when a service charge is automatically added to your bill, I think how much you tip should depend on the service you receive but either way, 12.5% is too high.

 

 

Love the accessories!

 

%d bloggers like this: